Social Security – House Committee Holds Hearing on SSA’s Information Technology

On September 27, the House Ways and Means Committee Social Security Subcommittee held a hearing on the “State of Social Security’s Information Technology.” Witnesses were Rajive Mathur, Deputy Commissioner of Systems and Chief Information Officer, Social Security Administration; Gale Stallworth Stone, Acting Inspector General, Social Security Administration; and Carol C. Harris, Director, Information Technology Management Issues, Government Accountability Office. Visit the Committee web site to review testimony and archived video.

Rights – Senate Holds Hearing on Kavanaugh Nomination

Last week, the Senate Judiciary held a four-day hearing on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court. The first three days involved questioning on Judge Kavanaugh himself. The fourth day involved additional witnesses, including Elizabeth Weintraub, Advocacy Specialist at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, and Jackson Corbin, a 13-year-old with Noonan Syndrome. Ms. Weintraub testified about the importance of self-determination to her as a woman with intellectual disability and Judge Kavanaugh’s ruling in Doe Tarlow v. District of Columbia, in which he concluded that people with intellectual disability who have “never been competent” do not have a right to even have their wishes heard or considered in medical decisions (see and share video of her testimony). Jackson’s testimony related to the importance of the Affordable Care Act to his mother, his brother, and himself, all of whom have Noonan Syndrome, which comes with multiple pre-existing conditions. Visit the Committee web site (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4) for more information or to view archived video of the hearing. The Arc opposes Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Medicaid/LTSS – House Committee Holds Hearing Addressing MFP; Advocates Hold Briefing

On September 5, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on several bipartisan health initiatives, including reauthorization of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) Demonstration Program. Witnesses testifying on MFP were Curtis Cunningham, Vice President, National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities; and Matt Salo, Executive Director, National Association of Medicaid Directors. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to view archived video of the hearing.

On September 6, The Arc and other advocacy organizations held a briefing for Congressional staff on reauthorization of MFP. Nicole Jorwic, Director of Rights Policy at The Arc was the moderator of the briefing. Speakers were John McCarthy, Founding Partner at Speire Healthcare Strategies, Former Medicaid Director in Ohio and DC; Margaret Gartlgruber, Vice President at RHA Health Services; Mike Oxford, Executive Director for Policy, Topeka Independent Living Resource Center; and Tyree Brown, a person who transitioned back home in Maryland. MFP provides grants to states to transition people from institutions to community based settings. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this program has helped over 63,000 people transition into the community and saved Medicare and Medicaid almost $1 billion as of 2013. The Arc strongly supports reauthorization of MFP.

Medicaid/LTSS – House Committee to Hold Hearing Addressing MFP; Advocates to Hold Briefing

On September 5, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on several bipartisan initiatives, including reauthorization of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) Demonstration Program. On September 6, The Arc and other advocacy organizations will hold a briefing for Congressional staff on reauthorization of MFP. MFP provides grants to states to transition people from institutions to community-based settings. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this program has helped over 63,000 people transition into the community and saved Medicare and Medicaid almost $1 billion as of 2013. The Arc strongly supports reauthorization of MFP.

Social Security – House Committee Holds Hearing on Examining Changes to Social Security’s Disability Appeals Process

Last week, the House Committee and Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security held a hearing on “Examining Changes to Social Security’s Disability Appeals Process.” As stated in the Committee’s announcement, the hearing focused on “…recent and planned changes affecting the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) disability appeals process, the metrics the SSA uses to evaluate process changes, and the progress the SSA has made to address the appeals backlog.” Visit the Committee web site for testimony and archived video of the hearing.

Following the hearing, Subcommittee Chair Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Ranking Member John Larson (D-CT) led all Subcommittee Members in a bipartisan letter to Acting Commissioner of Social Security Nancy Berryhill stating that the agency should not proceed with plans to reinstate the reconsideration level of appeal in 10 states, until a Senate-confirmed Commissioner is sworn in. President Trump has nominated Andrew Saul of New York to be Commissioner of Social Security.

Social Security – House Committee to Hold Hearing on Examining Changes to Social Security’s Disability Appeals Process

On July 25, the House Committee and Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security will hold a hearing on “Examining Changes to Social Security’s Disability Appeals Process.” As stated in the Committee’s announcement, “[t]he hearing will focus on recent and planned changes affecting the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) disability appeals process, the metrics the SSA uses to evaluate process changes, and the progress the SSA has made to address the appeals backlog.” Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video on the day of the hearing.

Family Support/Employment/Social Security – Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Paid Family Leave

On July 11, the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy held a hearing on “Examining the Importance of Paid Family Leave for American Working Families.” Witnesses were Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA); Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY); Andrew Biggs, Ph.D., Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute; Vicki Shabo, Vice President for Workplace Policies and Strategies, National Partnership for Women & Families; and Carolyn O’Boyle, Managing Director, Deloitte Services, LLP. Visit the Committee web site for more information including opening statements, testimony, and archived video of the hearing.

Housing – House Committee to Hold Hearing on Lead-Based Paint and Mold Remediation

On June 26, the House Committee on Financial Services’ Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance will hold a hearing on “Oversight of the Federal Government’s Approach to Lead-Based Paint and Mold Remediation in Public and Subsidized Housing.” The hearing will examine how HUD remedies unsafe living conditions. Exposure to high levels of lead increases the risk for learning and developmental disabilities in children. This hearing follows the release of two reports last week: the Government Accountability Office, “Lead Paint in Housing: HUD Should Strengthen Grant Processes, Compliance Monitoring, and Performance Assessment” and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of the Inspector General, “HUD Lacked Adequate Oversight of Lead-Based Paint Reporting and Remediation in Its Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher Programs“. Visit the Committee web site for more information.